OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAutumn can be such an endearing time of year. Outdoor activities no longer soak a person in sweat just at the thought. Chilly nights with cuddling under blankets. The return to routine early-to-bed-early-to-rise after summer’s excesses. The smells of earth and leaves and the first fires lit in fireplaces. P1080925The colors changing on the trees, across the vineyards. Short-term art, as if Christo teamed with Rothko for a grand-scale work of intense color.P1080905The leaves here turn color, especially on the grape vines, which can take on riotous shades of red and orange and gold. Mostly in unison, by varietal, except for the stray syrah that wandered into a crowd of cabernet.P1080915P1080918The trees’ leaves also change color before falling. But many of the hills are covered with pines that stay green. They aren’t the Christmas tree shapes but pins parasols–umbrella pines–that have branchless trunks giving way to rounded, clumpy tops that look like the clouds drawn by kindergartners. The spiky broom plants stay green, and laurel keeps its leaves. With rain, the grass grows back. Winter is a relatively green season here.stream in autumnP1080920Sometimes the stars are shining brightly when I wake, but by the time the Kid gets out the door a gray film has descended, thickening by the minute.

Minutes later, a text from a teen on a bus: “Go look outside. It’s magic.”IMG_4974IMG_4979IMG_4977Fog turns the Kodachrome-colored fall into a shades-of-gray enigma. I venture out. It’s so thick I can barely see my hand before my face. The familiar road is suddenly mysterious. It could go anywhere like this, to places unknown. I almost hesitate to even keep walking, as if I might end up in a parallel world and be unable to get home.IMG_4982As the sun begins to rise, the fog, too, starts to lift.IMG_4973Not uniformly, but leaving behind remnants. Clouds on the ground, here and there.IMG_5015IMG_5017IMG_5005IMG_5001IMG_4989IMG_4993When the sun climbs triumphant above the hills, the colors return to their saturated selves. IMG_5011A metaphor for my autumn moods. P1080899Longing/loving. Inside/outside. Retrospective/energized. Thinking a lot about loved ones who died, but busy on behalf of those living. Bittersweet.

It kind of reminds me of the Carl Sandburg poem, “Arithmetic.” Yes, my favorite poem is about math.

Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and
   you can look out of the window and see the blue sky — or the
   answer is wrong and you have to start all over and try again
   and see how it comes out this time.P1080933Except the autumn funk isn’t so much about not getting the answer right as about wishing the goods things–the good people–could last forever. This time is good. Let’s just stay like this forever.

Doesn’t work that way. The leaves will fall from the branches. New ones will replace them later.P1080935My cousin asked whether the leaves change color here. I meant to answer, and then never got around to it. Because I didn’t want to just say “yes, they do.” Here it is, with my apologies for being late.P1000667






33 thoughts on “Mood Swings

  1. Autumn is my favourite of four favourite seasons. By which I mean that I actually love the take-your-breath-away cold of a real winter, I love the newness of spring and I love the sybaritic stupor that Summer induces but Autumn is such a beguiling lady … the mists, the colors, the mood-swings. My Aunt always put it down to the sap-falling … the contemplative mantle that tends to be adopted. This is a lovely piece, I like the poem (hadn’t read it before) and the mists …. those mystery carrying mists are just delectable.

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  2. Wonderful photos. Autumn is my favorite time of year. Could it be because that is the time of year that we visit France??? The vineyards are truly spectacular. They can look like a patchwork quilt.


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    1. I drove by a spectacular patchwork this afternoon. It’s still early for the colors to change, but there was a bright red vineyard with gold and orange and green ones around it. I will have to go back with a camera.


  3. Gorgeous colors and I love the moody fogs. You truly live in a gorgeous part of the country. It is amazing to watch the color changes here Seattle, they are happening so rapidly.

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  4. I love this post about my favorite season. There is a certain quiet melancholy about autumn which I like and the colorful leaves always make me wish it could last so much longer. Beautiful photos – thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    GET YOURSELF OVER THERE FOR A VISIT as it is one of the most BEAUTIFUL Things your eyes will ever see……..Never mind the architecture,streets……..and tiny cars!!!!!!
    Not to be forgotten THE FOOD!!!!!!!!

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